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Unspeakables Friday, November 21, 2014

I’ve decided to create my own greetings cards that say the things people don’t usually say, hence ‘unspeakables’. The first batch is now ready, and you can look at them, and even buy them if you want, by going to www.unspeakables.co.uk. Soon I’ll have a link on this page that takes you straight there. This venture is an extension of my writing, so it’s personal, and not in any way based on focus group research. It’s just me having fun. But you never know, you might find something there. I hope to get better at creating these cards as I go along.

Recent Questions

Submitted by visitors to this website

Posted by Lucia and Federica

November 10th 2014

Dear Mr Nicholson, We are two students of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. We were at your lecture two weeks ago, and we found it very inspiring. We have really enjoyed the film Les Miserables, so much so that we both have started reading the novel. Moreover, one of us has just graduated with an essay precisely about Les Miserables. We were very touched by something you said during your lecture: no man is evil in the depth of his soul. This sentence inspired us a few questions that we would like to ask you. Has your catholic background had a part in forming this belief of yours? In fact Catholicism asserts that man is essentially good (as God created him in his own image and likeness), although he can be tempted into sin, under particular conditions. We have also noticed that this is exactly the principle that informs Les Miserables both as a novel, a musical and a film. What was working on this film like? Do you think that the value-system emerging from the film represents your own? And now just one last question. We have watched the film almost ten times each, so we have a curiosity – a very small thing – to solve: when Jean Valjean was caught by the police officers and taken back to the bishop, Mons. Myriel told him: «I have saved your soul for God», while in the musical and in the novel he used another verb – more prosaic maybe, but very evocative: «I have bought your soul for God». Why this switch of words? Thank you very much for your kind answer and for your meaningful lecture too, Kind regards, Lucia Masetti and Federica Villa

William Nicholson responded:

I go further: I believe no man is evil, full stop. People do evil - a different point. I take issue with the Catholic Church on this. The church teaches that man is sinful, and needed to be redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I believe none of that. But to Les Mis: Victor Hugo is the man you should be talking to, but he's no longer there. The morality in all versions of the story is his. I share it wholeheartedly. As for the switch of words, the final film lyrics were all determined by Alan Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer, and only they will know the answer. My guess is they thought the audience would find the concept of 'buying' a soul offensive. I agree with you: I think 'bought' is stronger.

Posted by Rosie Semlyen

November 3rd 2014

I'm doing a project for school on Nelson Mandela and my grandma suggested contacting you, as your cousin Jane is her neighbour, at Brinkworth! I would like to know what you found most interesting about his life and I understand that you never met Mandela, so I was wandering why? Thank you!

William Nicholson responded:

There's so much that's interesting about Mandela's life. Where can I start? I think what most impressed me was his insight that his enemies, the white South African government, were more afraid of him than he was of them. That made it possible for him to remove their fear, and open the way to a free society. And yes, I never met the great man. When I was due to meet him I had a car accident and was smashed up; and later the opportunity didn't arise. I was very aware that everyone wanted to meet him, which was a burden on him. I saw no reason to add to that burden.

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Writing

Past and current works

GREETINGS CARDS

'Unspeakables'

Greetings cards hand-written by me that say the things you can't say, now available here.

NOVELS

prev
  • The Lovers of Amerherst
  • The Society of Others
  • The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life
  • All the Hopeful Lovers
  • The Golden Hour
  • Motherland
  • Reckless
next

YOUNG ADULT

  • The Windsinger
  • Slaves of the Mastery
  • Firesong
  • Seeker
  • Jango
  • Noman
  • Rich and Mad

FILMS

  • Shadowlands
  • Gladiator
  • Mandela
  • Les Miserables
  • Firelight
  • Nell
  • Sarafina
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age

PLAYS

  • The Retreat from Moscow
  • CRASH
  • Shadowlands
  • Katherine Howard